Tag Archives: Jake Maia Arlow

Gift Guide: Chanukah/Hanukkah 5782

Give a loved one celebrating the Festival of Lights the joy of queer Jewish literature!

The Flower Girl Wore Celery written by Meryl Gordon and illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown

The Flower Girl Wore Celery by [Meryl G. Gordon, Holly Clifton-Brown]Emma’s so excited to be a bridesmaid at her cousin Hannah’s wedding, but it sure does come with a lot of surprises! She did not expect to have to wear a dress the color of celery, or for the ring-bearer to be a bear, or for Alex, the person Hannah’s marrying, to be a girl, too! But it’s a beautiful day and a beautiful traditional Jewish wedding, even in a dress the color of celery.

Grab this one for your youngest readers, and certainly for any flower girls in your life!

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros

A Romanian immigrant named Alter is trying to settle into his new life well enough to bring his mother and sister over, but when his roommate is the latest in a line of Jewish boys found murdered, and his dybbuk takes over Alter’s body in pursuit of the killer, Alter is forced to join forces with the most dangerous (and compelling) boy from his past to find the guilty party, get justice for Yakov, and regain his freedom.

Grab this one for fans of historical fiction (it’s set at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 Chicago at the World’s Fair), thrillers, horror, and anyone who’s regularly immersed in Ashkenazi culture and loves to see it reflected.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound | Blackwell’s

The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan

Naomi Grant knows she’s more than qualified to lecture on sex positivity and her successful startup, but her past as a porn star keeps getting her blocked from opportunities. Enter Rabbi Ethan Cohen, who’s happy to take a chance on Naomi in order to draw interest to and expand his congregation. They are a most unlikely pair, but they’re certainly successful…a little too much so, maybe.

Grab this one for any fans of sexy romance. Don’t be frightened off by the rabbi hero, because I can definitely confirm It Works.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Milk Fed by Melissa Broder

Controlling her food intake with restriction and ritual is about as religious as Rachel gets, which makes her instant connection with Orthodox, food-loving Miriam of the frozen yogurt shop both confusing and compelling. But while on a therapy-induced hiatus from communicating with her controlling mother, nothing feels better to Rachel than the way Miriam takes care of and nourishes her, even as both struggle with how far this relationship of opposites can possibly go.

Grab this one for the litfic lovers in your life, and anyone coping with complicated relationships with mothers, food (with the obvious content warning in place), religion, or any combination thereof.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler

Lara’s finally landed Chase, the guy of her dreams, so why can’t she stop thinking about Jasmine, the girl she hooked up with over the summer? And WTF is Jasmine doing at her new school?

Grab this one for tweens, teens, questioning and/or bi friends of any age, and romance lovers.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

I Kissed a Girl by Jennet Alexander

B-List actress Lilah and makeup artist Noa need to work together to help both of them succeed and move up in their respective food chains in Hollywood. But the more time they spend together, the harder they fall, giving them the brand-new problem of how to handle love in the spotlight.

Grab this one for the Sapphic adult romance lovers in your life!

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | Books-A-Million

Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow

Dalia’s plans for a perfect amusement-park filled summer hit a snag when her blended family-to-be decides it’s the perfect opportunity for some quality time. Which sucks, until Dalia learns her future stepsister’s bringing her girlfriend on the trip, and realizes they have more in common than she thought…and she just might have feelings for her own roller coaster companion of choice, Rani.

Grab this one for younger readers, especially if they’re newly out, love romance, are coping with family blending, or just like fun.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Camp by L.C. Rosen

Randy’s always loved hanging out with his friends and starring in the musicals at all-queer Camp Outland, but this year, he’s reinventing himself as the considerably more masc Del in order to finally land his crush, Hudson. He’s sure that once Hudson falls for him, he’ll be able to shift back into his old personality, but will he? And would it even be worth it if he could?

Grab this for summer camp kids, romance fans, readers hungry for all-queer casts, and anyone who appreciates books for teens that are a little more Queer 2.0. (Also, this one’s available in paperback, making it a good option for readers who prefer them, and also easier on the budget!)

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Depart, Depart! by Sim Kern

53417444. sy475 When Noah seeks refuge during a hurricane, he immediately clicks with the other queer refugees, but not without concern that his also being Jewish and trans could put a target on his back. Support arrives in the most unlikely place: the form of his great-grandfather, German refugee Abe, who coaches Noah on how to survive and forces him to choose what he’s willing to sacrifice in order to live.

Grab this one for readers interested in cli-fi, Dystopian fans, and anyone looking for rare Jewish and trans rep.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu

Teen witch Nova lives a lovely small-town life with her grandmothers, but it all turns upside-down when she follows a white wolf into the woods and realizes it’s her childhood crush, Tam, who’s been searching for someplace to land. Now Tam needs help taking down a horse demon and everyone else looking to steal their power, and Nova is up to the task…and finding that her old feelings are very much still there.

Grab this one for fans of graphic novels, books that are spooky yet cozy, and anyone particularly looking for bicultural Jewish representation.

Note: Want to make this an extra-special gift? Grab the collector’s edition!

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Unwritten Rules by KD Casey

Read more about this book and the Judaism within it here.

Zach Glasser looks like he has a dream life as a pro ball player, but truthfully, he’s miserable over the fact that he lost the love of his life, teammate Eugenio Morales, when he wouldn’t and couldn’t come out three years earlier.  But now they’re being reunited for an all-star game, and Zach’s finally got another chance. Can he be who Eugenio needs him to be without giving up everything else in his life?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Grab this one for fans of sports, romance, and sports romance!

Don’t see something for your recipients here? Take a glance at this post for a whole bunch more queer Jewish reads!

Going with a gift card this year? Consider pairing it with recommendations for upcoming books, like This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke, Ellen Outside the Lines by AJ Sass!

Prefer to give a donation, or simply won’t get books in time because this blogger decided to do this post at the last minute and swears she’ll be earlier next year but right now this is the best we’ve got? Consider giving to Jewish Queer Youth!

New Releases: June 8th, 2021

Middle Grade

Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow

Would-be amusement park aficionado Dalia only has two items on her summer bucket list: (1) finally ride a roller coaster and (2) figure out how to make a new best friend. But when her dad suddenly announces that he’s engaged, Dalia’s schemes come to a screeching halt. With Dalia’s future stepsister Alexa heading back to college soon, the grown-ups want the girls to spend the last weeks of summer bonding–meaning Alexa has to cancel the amusement park road trip she’s been planning for months. Luckily Dalia comes up with a new plan: If she joins Alexa on her trip and brings Rani, the new girl from her swim team, along maybe she can have the perfect summer after all. But what starts out as a week of funnel cakes and Lazy River rides goes off the rails when Dalia discovers that Alexa’s girlfriend is joining the trip. And keeping Alexa’s secret makes Dalia realize one of her own: She might have more-than-friend feelings for Rani.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Both Can Be True by Jules Machias

Ash is no stranger to feeling like an outcast. For someone who cycles through genders, it’s a daily struggle to feel in control of how people perceive you. Some days Ash is undoubtedly girl, but other times, 100 percent guy. Daniel lacks control too—of his emotions. He’s been told he’s overly sensitive more times than he can count. He can’t help the way he is, and he sure wishes someone would accept him for it.

So when Daniel’s big heart leads him to rescue a dog that’s about to be euthanized, he’s relieved to find Ash willing to help. The two bond over their four-legged secret. When they start catching feelings for each other, however, things go from cute to complicated. Daniel thinks Ash is all girl . . . what happens when he finds out there’s more to Ash’s story?

With so much on the line—truth, identity, acceptance, and the life of an adorable pup named Chewbarka—will Ash and Daniel forever feel at war with themselves because they don’t fit into the world’s binaries? Or will their friendship help them embrace the beauty of living in between?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Young Adult

Fifteen Hundred Miles From the Sun by Jonny Garza Villa

53284187. sy475 In a home where social conservatism, machismo, and masculine identity run deep, Corpus Christi, Texas high school senior Julián Luna is forced to keep his gay identity a secret. Jules’ only focus is laying low the next ten months and enjoying every moment he has left with his friends before college takes them on separate paths.

Completely doable.

Until Jules wakes up hungover and discovers he came out on Twitter in between tequila shots. In an instant, his entire life is thrown—literally—out the closet.

Helping him navigate the life that is openly gay Jules is Mat, a Twitter mutual from Los Angeles who slides into Jules’ DMs. He’s friendly, supportive, funny, and so attractive. He’s the first person Jules says the words “I’m gay” to. And, if he weren’t three states away, could definitely be Jules’ first boyfriend.

But a cute boy living halfway across the country can’t fix all Jules’ problems. There’s one thing he’ll have to face on his own: coming out to his homophobic father.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Love and Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura

When Nozomi Nagai pictured the ideal summer romance, a fake one wasn’t what she had in mind.

That was before she met the perfect girl. Willow is gorgeous, glamorous, and…heartbroken? And when she enlists Nozomi to pose as her new girlfriend to make her ex jealous, Nozomi is a willing volunteer.

Because Nozomi has a master plan of her own: one to show Willow she’s better than a stand-in, and turn their fauxmance into something real. But as the lies pile up, it’s not long before Nozomi’s schemes take a turn toward disaster…and maybe a chance at love she didn’t plan for.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Book Depository

Fire With Fire by Destiny Soria

Dani and Eden Rivera were both born to kill dragons, but the sisters couldn’t be more different. For Dani, dragon slaying takes a back seat to normal high school life, while Eden prioritizes training above everything else. Yet they both agree on one thing: it’s kill or be killed where dragons are concerned.

Until Dani comes face-to-face with one and forges a rare and magical bond with him. As she gets to know Nox, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about dragons is wrong. With Dani lost to the dragons, Eden turns to the mysterious and alluring sorcerers to help save her sister. Now on opposite sides of the conflict, the sisters will do whatever it takes to save the other. But the two are playing with magic that is more dangerous than they know, and there is another, more powerful enemy waiting for them both in the shadows.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

The Marvelous by Claire Kann

Everyone thinks they know Jewel Van Hanen – heiress turned actress turned social media darling who created the massively popular video-sharing app, Golden Rule.

After mysteriously disappearing for a year, Jewel made her dramatic return with an announcement: Three lucky Golden Rule users have been chosen to compete in a mystery treasure hunt at her private estate – all for an unimaginable cash prize. Luna: fifteen, fearless, and Jewel’s biggest fan. Nicole: the new Queen of Golden Rule given an invitation she couldn’t refuse. Stella: the brilliant outsider with a killer ulterior motive.

As the weekend goes on, the line between reality and the game begins to blur and the players begin to realize that money isn’t the only thing at stake.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Girls at the Edge of the World by Laura Brooke Robson

In a world bound for an epic flood, only a chosen few are guaranteed safe passage into the new world once the waters recede. The Kostrovian royal court will be saved, of course, along with their guards. But the fate of the court’s Royal Flyers, a lauded fleet of aerial silk performers, is less certain. Hell-bent on survival, Principal Flyer, Natasha Koskinen, will do anything to save the Flyers, who are the only family she’s ever known. Even if “anything” means molding herself into the type of girl who could be courted by Prince Nikolai. But unbeknownst to Natasha, her newest recruit, Ella Neves, is driven less by her desire to survive the floods than her thirst for revenge. And Ella’s mission could put everything Natasha has worked for in peril.

As the oceans rise, so too does an undeniable spark between the two flyers. With the end of the world looming, and dark secrets about the Kostrovian court coming to light, Ella and Natasha can either give in to despair . . . or find a new reason to live.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Queen of All by Anya Josephs

The only interesting thing about fourteen-year-old Jena is other people. Her mother disappeared when she was a baby, and her best (and only) friend, Sisi, is not just the lost heir to a noble Numbered house, but also the Kingdom’s most famous beauty. Jena herself is just awkward, anxious, and often alone: not exactly heroic material. But when a letter summons Sisi to the royal court, both girls find their own futures, and the Kingdom’s, in Jena’s hands. Sisi, caught between the king and the crown prince, searches for a magical secret the Prince is willing to kill to keep. Jena can save her: but only if she is willing to let her go, maybe forever. It’s hard to do that when she’s in love with Sisi herself.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Every Body Shines: Sixteen Stories About Living Fabulously Fat ed. by Cassandra Newbould

54860255An intersectional, feminist YA anthology from some of today’s most exciting voices across a span of genres, all celebrating body diversity and fat acceptance through short stories.

Fat girls and boys and nonbinary teens are: friends who lift each other up, heroes who rescue themselves, big bodies in space, intellects taking up space, and bodies looking and feeling beautiful. They express themselves through fashion, sports and other physical pursuits, through food, and music, and art. They are flirting and falling in love. They are loving to themselves and one another. With stories that feature fat main characters starring in a multitude of stories and genres, and written by authors who live these lives too, this is truly a unique collection that shows fat young people the representation they deserve.

With a foreword by Aubry Gordon, creator of Your Fat Friend, and with stories by:

Nafiza Azad, Chris Baron, Sheena Boekweg, Linda Camacho, Kelly deVos, Alex Gino, Claire Kann, amanda lovelace, Hillary Monahan, Cassandra Newbould, Francina Simone, Rebecca Sky, Monique Gray Smith, Renée Watson, Catherine Adel West, Jennifer Yen

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Monstrous Design by Kat Dunn (10th)

1794, London: Camille and Al are desperately hunting Olympe’s kidnapper. From the glamorous excesses of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens to the city’s seedy underbelly, they are caught in a dangerous game of lies and deceit. And a terrible new enemy lies in wait with designs more monstrous than they could ever imagine… Can Camille play on to the end or will she be forced to show her hand?

In Paris, the Duc is playing his own dangerous games. With Ada in his thrall, old loyalties are thrown into question. The Battalion are torn apart as never before, and everything – Ada’s love for Camille, her allegiance to the battalion itself – is under threat.

Buy it: Book Depository

Adult

Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez

This was previously published in the UK by Dialogue Books

In the 1950s, ex-boxer Norman Alonso is a determined and humble Jamaican who has immigrated to Britain with his wife and children to secure a brighter future. Blighted with unexpected illness and racism, Norman and his family are resilient, but are all too aware that their family will need more than just hope to survive in their new country.

At the turn of the millennium, Jesse seeks a fresh start in London, escaping a broken immediate family, a repressive religious community and his depressed hometown in the industrial Black Country. But once he arrives he finds himself at a loss for a new center of gravity, and turns to sex work, music and art to create his own notions of love, masculinity and spirituality.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound | Book Depository

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of the powerful, magical deathless waters — but is now little more than a decaying ruin.

Priya is a maidservant, one among several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, so long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides.

But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne. The other is a priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will change the fate of an empire.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Book Depository

Doubting Thomas by Matthew Clark Davison

Thomas McGurrin is a fourth-grade teacher and openly gay man at a private primary school serving Portland, Oregon’s wealthy progressive elite when he’s falsely accused of inappropriately touching a male student. The accusation comes just as Thomas is thrust back into the center of his unusual family by his younger brother’s battle with cancer. Although cleared of the accusation, Thomas is forced to resign from a job he loves during a potentially life-changing family drama.

Davison’s novel explores the discrepancy between the progressive ideals and persistent negative stereotypes among the privileged regarding social status, race, and sexual orientation and the impact of that discrepancy on friendships and family relations.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian

55338994Kit Webb has left his stand-and-deliver days behind him. But dreary days at his coffee shop have begun to make him pine for the heady rush of thievery. When a handsome yet arrogant aristocrat storms into his shop, Kit quickly realizes he may be unable to deny whatever this highborn man desires.

In order to save himself and a beloved friend, Percy, Lord Holland must go against every gentlemanly behavior he holds dear to gain what he needs most: a book that once belonged to his mother, a book his father never lets out of his sight and could be Percy’s savior. More comfortable in silk-filled ballrooms than coffee shops frequented by criminals, his attempts to hire the roughly hewn highwayman, formerly known as Gladhand Jack, proves equal parts frustrating and electrifying.

Kit refuses to participate in the robbery but agrees to teach Percy how to do the deed. Percy knows he has little choice but to submit and as the lessons in thievery begin, he discovers thievery isn’t the only crime he’s desperate to commit with Kit.

But when their careful plan goes dangerously wrong and shocking revelations threaten to tear them apart, can these stolen hearts overcome the impediments in their path?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Nowhere Else by Felicia Davin

This is the third book in the Nowhere series.

Nowhere Else by [Felicia Davin]Solomon Lange was a brilliant, ambitious physicist until a catastrophe in his lab trapped him in the void between worlds. Newly rescued but traumatized and uncontrollably telekinetic, Lange no longer feels at home in the world or in his body. All he wants is to return to the Nowhere.

But one crew member—the intolerable, imperturbable, incredibly patient, unbearably gentle Jacob McCreery—refuses to let him. Jake insists that Lange is the only one who can fix the damage in his lab, a breach to the Nowhere that’s simultaneously devouring and distorting the space around it. Left open, the growing breach threatens all of humanity. Jake’s not ready to give up on saving the world just yet—and he’s willing to dodge whatever Lange throws at him.

Working together brings Lange and Jake closer than they’ve ever allowed themselves to be with anyone else. Can two wounded, lonely people repair each other in time to repair the world?

Buy it: Amazon

Memoir

55711622Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons by John Paul Brammer

From popular LGBTQ advice columnist and writer John Paul Brammer comes a hilarious, heartwarming memoir-in-essays chronicling his journey growing up as a queer, mixed-race kid in America’s heartland to becoming the “Chicano Carrie Bradshaw” of his generation.

The first time someone called John Paul (JP) Brammer “Papi” was on the popular gay hookup app Grindr. At first, it was flattering; JP took this as white-guy speak for “hey, handsome.” Who doesn’t want to be called handsome? But then it happened again and again…and again, leaving JP wondering: Who the hell is Papi?

What started as a racialized moniker given to him on a hookup app soon became the inspiration for his now wildly popular advice column “¡Hola Papi!”, launching his career as the Cheryl Strayed for young queer people everywhere—and some straight people too. JP had his doubts at first—what advice could he really offer while he himself stumbled through his early 20s? Sometimes the best advice to dole outcomes from looking within, which is what JP has done in his column and book—and readers have flocked to him for honest, heartfelt wisdom, and of course a few laughs.

In ¡Hola Papi!, JP shares his story of growing up biracial and in the closet against the backdrop of America’s heartland, while attempting to answer some of life’s toughest questions: How do I let go of the past? How do I become the person I want to be? Is there such a thing as being too gay? Should I hook up with my grade school bully now that he’s out of the closet? Questions we’ve all asked ourselves, surely.

With wit and wisdom in equal measure, ¡Hola Papi! is for anyone—gay, straight, and everything in between—who has ever taken stock of their unique place in the world, offering considered advice, intelligent discourse, and fits of laughter along the way. As #1 New York Times bestselling author Shea Serrano says: “I loved ¡Hola Papi! I’m certain you will too.”

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir by Akwaeke Emezi

In three critically acclaimed novels, Akwaeke Emezi has introduced readers to a landscape marked by familial tensions, Igbo belief systems, and a boundless search for what it means to be free. Now, in this extraordinary memoir, the bestselling author of The Death of Vivek Oji reveals the harrowing yet resolute truths of their own life. Through candid, intimate correspondence with friends, lovers, and family, Emezi traces the unfolding of a self and the unforgettable journey of a creative spirit stepping into power in the human world. Their story weaves through transformative decisions about their gender and body, their precipitous path to success as a writer, and the turmoil of relationships on an emotional, romantic, and spiritual plane, culminating in a book that is as tender as it is brutal.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Happy Jewish American Heritage Month!

Books to Buy Now

Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler

Lara’s had eyes for exactly one person throughout her three years of high school: Chase Harding. He’s tall, strong, sweet, a football star, and frankly, stupid hot. Oh, and he’s talking to her now. On purpose and everything. Maybe…flirting, even? No, wait, he’s definitely flirting, which is pretty much the sum of everything Lara’s wanted out of life.

Except she’s haunted by a memory. A memory of a confusing, romantic, strangely perfect summer spent with a girl named Jasmine. A memory that becomes a confusing, disorienting present when Jasmine herself walks through the front doors of the school to see Lara and Chase chatting it up in front of the lockers.

Lara has everything she ever wanted: a tight-knit group of friends, a job that borders on cool, and Chase, the boy of her literal dreams. But if she’s finally got the guy, why can’t she stop thinking about the girl?

Cool for the Summer is a story of self-discovery and new love. It’s about the things we want and the things we need. And it’s about the people who will let us be who we are.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan

Naomi Grant has built her life around going against the grain. After the sex-positive start-up she cofounded becomes an international sensation, she wants to extend her educational platform to live lecturing. Unfortunately, despite her long list of qualifications, higher ed won’t hire her.

Ethan Cohen has recently received two honors: LA Mag named him one of the city’s hottest bachelors and he became rabbi of his own synagogue. Taking a gamble in an effort to attract more millennials to the faith, the executive board hired Ethan because of his nontraditional background. Unfortunately, his shul is low on both funds and congregants. The board gives him three months to turn things around or else they’ll close the doors of his synagogue for good.

Naomi and Ethan join forces to host a buzzy seminar series on Modern Intimacy, the perfect solution to their problems–until they discover a new one–their growing attraction to each other. They’ve built the syllabus for love’s latest experiment, but neither of them expected they’d be the ones putting it to the test.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Rabbi Who Prayed with Fire by Rachel Sharona Lewis

Congregation Beth Abraham expected their newest rabbi to “sing some songs and go to an environmental rally.” But Vivian Green has other ideas. She wants her flock to engage meaningfully with their city-special mayoral elections, interfaith breakfasts, fights for affordable housing and all. Also, she would like just one night off to go dancing in the leather boots that make her look like her finest gay self.

Taking on the city’s old boys’ club is already proving difficult…but then Beth Abraham bursts into flames. Fingers get pointed, and everyone’s biases rise to the surface. It turns out that wasn’t the only fire burning in town.

Vivian sticks to her instincts, raising tensions with her boss, her community, and a certain hottie in a power suit. And she learns that knowing whodunnit is only half the battle.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Fever King by Victoria Lee

The Fever King (Feverwake, #1)In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

Buy it: Bookshop | B&N | Amazon

Milk Fed by Melissa Broder

Rachel is twenty-four, a lapsed Jew who has made calorie restriction her religion. By day, she maintains an illusion of existential control, by way of obsessive food rituals, while working as an underling at a Los Angeles talent management agency. At night, she pedals nowhere on the elliptical machine. Rachel is content to carry on subsisting—until her therapist encourages her to take a ninety-day communication detox from her mother, who raised her in the tradition of calorie counting.

Early in the detox, Rachel meets Miriam, a zaftig young Orthodox Jewish woman who works at her favorite frozen yogurt shop and is intent upon feeding her. Rachel is suddenly and powerfully entranced by Miriam—by her sundaes and her body, her faith and her family—and as the two grow closer, Rachel embarks on a journey marked by mirrors, mysticism, mothers, milk, and honey.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Nine of Swords, Reversed by Xan West z”l

Dev has been with xyr service submissive Noam for seven years and xe loves them very much. Dev and Noam have built a good life together in Noam’s family home in Oakland, where they both can practice their magecraft, celebrate the high holidays in comfort, support each other as their disabilities flare, and where Noam can spend Shabbos with their beloved family ghost.

But Dev’s got a problem: xe has been in so much arthritis pain recently that xe has not been able to shield properly. As an empath, no shielding means Dev cannot safely touch Noam. That has put a strain on their relationship, and it feels like Noam is pulling away from xym. To top it off, Dev has just had an upsetting dream-vision about xyrself and Noam that caused one of the biggest meltdowns xe has had in a while. It’s only with a timely tarot reading and the help of another genderfluid mage that Dev is able to unpack the situation. Can xe figure out how to address the issues in xyr relationship with Noam before everything falls apart?

Buy it: Gumroad | Amazon

The Spy With the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

38650956In a nuclear arms race, you’d use anything for an edge. Even magic.

Ilse and Wolf Klein bear many secrets. Genius Ilse is unsure if her parents will ever accept her love of physics. Her brother Wolf strives for a quiet life, though he worries that there’s no place in the world for people like him. But their deepest secret lies within their blood: with it, they can work magic.

Blackmailed into service during World War II, Ilse lends her magic to America’s newest weapon, the atom bomb, while Wolf goes behind enemy lines to sabotage Germany’s nuclear program. It’s a dangerous mission, but if Hitler were to create the bomb first, the results would be catastrophic.

When Wolf’s plane is shot down, his entire mission is thrown into jeopardy. Wolf needs Ilse’s help to develop the magic that will keep him alive, but with a spy afoot in Ilse’s laboratory, the secret letters she sends to Wolf begin to look treasonous. Can Ilse prove her loyalty—and find a way to help her brother—before their time runs out?

Loyalties and identities will be tested in this sweeping fantasy and a fast-paced thriller that bravely explores the tensions at the dawn of the nuclear age.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Sarahland by Sam Cohen

54503493In Sarahland, Sam Cohen brilliantly and often hilariously explores the ways in which traditional stories have failed us, both demanding and thrillingly providing for its cast of Sarahs new origin stories, new ways to love the planet and those inhabiting it, and new possibilities for life itself. In one story, a Jewish college Sarah passively consents to a form-life in pursuit of an MRS degree and is swept into a culture of normalized sexual violence. Another reveals a version of Sarah finding pleasure—and a new set of problems—by playing dead for a wealthy necrophiliac. A Buffy-loving Sarah uses fan fiction to work through romantic obsession. As the collection progresses, Cohen explodes this search for self, insisting that we have more to resist and repair than our own personal narratives. Readers witness as the ever-evolving “Sarah” gets recast: as a bible-era trans woman, an aging lesbian literally growing roots, a being who transcends the earth as we know it. While Cohen presents a world that will clearly someday end, “Sarah” will continue.

In each Sarah’s refusal to adhere to a single narrative, she potentially builds a better home for us all, a place to live that demands no fixity of self, no plague of consumerism, no bodily compromise, a place called Sarahland.

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Kissing Ezra Holtz by Brianna Shrum

40879516. sy475 Seventeen-year-old Amalia Yaabez and Ezra Holtz couldn’t be more different. They’ve known (and avoided) each other their whole lives; she unable to stand his buttoned-up, arrogant, perfect disposition, and he unwilling to deal with her slacker, rule-breaking way of moving through the world.

When they are unhappily paired on an AP Psychology project, they come across an old psychological study that posits that anyone can fall in love with anyone, if you put them through the right scientific, psychological steps. They decide to put that theory to the test for their project, matching couples from different walks of high school life to see if science really can create love.

As they go through the whirlwind of the experiment, Ezra and Amalia realize that maybe it’s not just the couples they matched who are falling for each other . . .

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, and just like that, the tabloids declare them a couple. The so-called scandal couldn’t come at a worse time—threatening Emma’s promotion and Jo’s new movie.

As the gossip spreads, it starts to affect all areas of their lives. Paparazzi are following them outside the office, coworkers are treating them differently, and a “source” is feeding information to the media. But their only comment is “no comment”.

With the launch of Jo’s film project fast approaching, the two women begin to spend even more time together, getting along famously. Emma seems to have a sixth sense for knowing what Jo needs. And Jo, known for being aloof and outwardly cold, opens up to Emma in a way neither of them expects. They begin to realize the rumor might not be so off base after all…but is acting on the spark between them worth fanning the gossip flames?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Bookshop

Camp by L.C. Rosen

Sixteen-year-old Randy Kapplehoff loves spending the summer at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. It’s where he met his best friends. It’s where he takes to the stage in the big musical. And it’s where he fell for Hudson Aaronson-Lim – who’s only into straight-acting guys and barely knows not-at-all-straight-acting Randy even exists.

This year, though, it’s going to be different. Randy has reinvented himself as ‘Del’ – buff, masculine, and on the market. Even if it means giving up show tunes, nail polish, and his unicorn bedsheets, he’s determined to get Hudson to fall for him.

But as he and Hudson grow closer, Randy has to ask himself how much is he willing to change for love. And is it really love anyway, if Hudson doesn’t know who he truly is?

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The Second Mango by Shira Glassman

32179385. sy475 Queen Shulamit never expected to inherit the throne of the tropical land of Perach so young. At twenty, grief-stricken and fatherless, she’s also coping with being the only lesbian she knows after her sweetheart ran off for an unknown reason. Not to mention, she’s the victim of severe digestive problems that everybody thinks she’s faking. When she meets Rivka, an athletic and assertive warrior from the north who wears a mask and pretends to be a man, she finds the source of strength she needs so desperately.

Unfortunately for her, Rivka is straight, but that’s okay — Shulamit needs a surrogate big sister just as much as she needs a girlfriend. Especially if the warrior’s willing to take her around the kingdom on the back of her dragon in search of other women who might be open to same-sex romance. The real world outside the palace is full of adventure, however, and the search for a royal girlfriend quickly turns into a rescue mission when they discover a temple full of women turned to stone by an evil sorcerer.

Buy it: Amazon

The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller

theartofstarvingMatt hasn’t eaten in days.

His stomach stabs and twists inside, pleading for a meal. But Matt won’t give in. The hunger clears his mind, keeps him sharp—and he needs to be as sharp as possible if he’s going to find out just how Tariq and his band of high school bullies drove his sister, Maya, away.

Matt’s hardworking mom keeps the kitchen crammed with food, but Matt can resist the siren call of casseroles and cookies because he has discovered something: the less he eats the more he seems to have . . . powers. The ability to see things he shouldn’t be able to see. The knack of tuning in to thoughts right out of people’s heads. Maybe even the authority to bend time and space.

So what is lunch, really, compared to the secrets of the universe?

Matt decides to infiltrate Tariq’s life, then use his powers to uncover what happened to Maya. All he needs to do is keep the hunger and longing at bay. No problem. But Matt doesn’t realize there are many kinds of hunger… and he isn’t in control of all of them.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

All My Mother’s Lovers by Ilana Masad

Intimacy has always eluded twenty-seven-year-old Maggie Krause—despite being brought up by married parents, models of domestic bliss—until, that is, Lucia came into her life. But when Maggie’s mom, Iris, dies in a car crash, Maggie returns home only to discover a withdrawn dad, an angry brother, and, along with Iris’s will, five sealed envelopes, each addressed to a mysterious man she’s never heard of.

In an effort to run from her own grief and discover the truth about Iris—who made no secret of her discomfort with her daughter’s sexuality—Maggie embarks on a road trip, determined to hand-deliver the letters and find out what these men meant to her mother. Maggie quickly discovers Iris’s second, hidden life, which shatters everything Maggie thought she knew about her parents’ perfect relationship. What is she supposed to tell her father and brother? And how can she deal with her own relationship when her whole world is in freefall?

Told over the course of a funeral and shiva, and written with enormous wit and warmth, All My Mother’s Lovers is the exciting debut novel from fiction writer and book critic Ilana Masad. A unique meditation on the universality and particularity of family ties and grief, and a tender and biting portrait of sex, gender, and identity, All My Mother’s Lovers challenges us to question the nature of fulfilling relationships.

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What If It’s Us? by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

36341204. sy475 Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

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Ana on the Edge by A.J. Sass

For fans of George and Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, a heartfelt coming of age story about a nonbinary character navigating a binary world.

Twelve-year-old Ana-Marie Jin, the reigning US Juvenile figure skating champion, is not a frilly dress kind of kid. So, when Ana learns that next season’s program will be princess themed, doubt forms fast. Still, Ana tries to focus on training and putting together a stellar routine worthy of national success.

Once Ana meets Hayden, a transgender boy new to the rink, thoughts about the princess program and gender identity begin to take center stage. And when Hayden mistakes Ana for a boy, Ana doesn’t correct him and finds comfort in this boyish identity when he’s around. As their friendship develops, Ana realizes that it’s tricky juggling two different identities on one slippery sheet of ice. And with a major competition approaching, Ana must decide whether telling everyone the truth is worth risking years of hard work and sacrifice.

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You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman

bivis5Senior Ariel Stone is the perfect college applicant: first chair violin, dedicated community volunteer, and expected valedictorian. He works hard – really hard – to make his life look effortless. A failed Calculus quiz is not part of that plan. Not when he’s number one. Not when his peers can smell weakness like a freshman’s body spray.

Figuring a few all-nighters will preserve his class rank, Ariel throws himself into studying. His friends will understand if he skips a few plans, and he can sleep when he graduates. Except Ariel’s grade continues to slide. Reluctantly, he gets a tutor. Amir and Ariel have never gotten along, but Amir excels in Calculus, and Ariel is out of options.

Ariel may not like Calc, but he might like Amir. Except adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push him past his limit.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

Wide Awake by David Levithan

I can’t believe there’s going to be a gay Jewish president.

As my mother said this, she looked at my father, who was still staring at the screen. They were shocked, barely comprehending.

Me? I sat there and beamed.

Everything seems to be going right in Duncan’s life: The candidate he’s been supporting for president has just won the election. Duncan’s boyfriend, Jimmy, is with him to celebrate. Love and kindness appear to have won the day.

But all too quickly, things start to go wrong. The election is called into question… and Duncan and Jimmy’s relationship is called into question, too. Suddenly Duncan has to decide what he’s willing to risk for something he believes in… and how far he’s willing to go to hold on to the people we hold dear.

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Becoming Eve: My Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman by Abby Chava Stein

44287250Abby Stein was raised in a Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn, isolated in a culture that lives according to the laws and practices of eighteenth-century Eastern Europe, speaking only Yiddish and Hebrew and shunning modern life. Stein was born as the first son in a dynastic rabbinical family, poised to become a leader of the next generation of Hasidic Jews.

But Abby felt certain at a young age that she was a girl. She suppressed her desire for a new body while looking for answers wherever she could find them, from forbidden religious texts to smuggled secular examinations of faith. Finally, she orchestrated a personal exodus from ultra-Orthodox manhood to mainstream femininity-a radical choice that forced her to leave her home, her family, her way of life.

Powerful in the truths it reveals about biology, culture, faith, and identity, Becoming Eve poses the enduring question: How far will you go to become the person you were meant to be?

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The Wife in the Attic by Rose Lerner

54369673. sx318 Goldengrove’s towers and twisted chimneys rose at the very edge of the peaceful Weald, a stone’s throw from the poisonous marshes and merciless waters of Rye Bay. Young Tabby Palethorp had been running wild there, ever since her mother grew too ill to leave her room.

I was the perfect choice to give Tabby a good English education: thoroughly respectable and far too plain to tempt her lonely father, Sir Kit, to indiscretion.

I knew better than to trust my new employer with the truth about my past. But knowing better couldn’t stop me from yearning for impossible things: to be Tabby’s mother, Sir Kit’s companion, Goldengrove’s new mistress.

All that belonged to poor Lady Palethorp. Most of all, I burned to finally catch a glimpse of her.

Surely she could tell me who had viciously defaced the exquisite guitar in the music room, why all the doors in the house were locked after dark, and whose footsteps I heard in the night…

Buy it: Audible

The Papercutter by Cindy Rizzo

A deeply polarized and ungovernable United States of America has separated into two nations―the God Fearing States (GFS) and the United Progressive Regions (UPR).

Judith Braverman, a teenager living in an Orthodox Jewish community in the GFS, is not only a talented artist accomplished in the ancient craft of papercutting, she also has the gift of seeing into peoples’ souls―and can tell instantly if someone is good or evil.

Jeffrey Schwartz has no love for religion or conformity and yearns to escape to the freedom of the UPR. When he’s accepted into an experimental pen pal program and paired with Dani Fine, an openly queer girl in the UPR, he hopes that he can finally find a way out.

As danger mounts and their alarm grows, Judith embeds a secret code in her papercuts so that she and Jeffrey can tell Dani what’s happening to Jews in the GFS without raising suspicions from the government. When the three arrange a quick, clandestine meeting, Jeffrey is finally faced with the choice to flee or to stay and resist. And Judith is reeling from a pull toward Dani that is unlike anything she has ever felt before.

Buy it: Amazon

Depart, Depart! by Sim Kern

53417444. sy475 When an unprecedented hurricane devastates the city of Houston, Noah Mishner finds shelter in the Dallas Mavericks’ basketball arena. Though he finds community among other queer refugees, Noah fears his trans and Jewish identities put him at risk with certain “capital-T” Texans. His fears take form when he starts seeing visions of his great- grandfather Abe, who fled Nazi Germany as a boy. As the climate crisis intensifies and conditions in the shelter deteriorate, Abe’s ghost grows more powerful. Ultimately, Noah must decide whether he can trust his ancestor ⁠— and whether he’s willing to sacrifice his identity and community in order to survive.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Books to Preorder

Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow (June 8th)

Would-be amusement park aficionado Dalia only has two items on her summer bucket list: (1) finally ride a roller coaster and (2) figure out how to make a new best friend. But when her dad suddenly announces that he’s engaged, Dalia’s schemes come to a screeching halt. With Dalia’s future stepsister Alexa heading back to college soon, the grown-ups want the girls to spend the last weeks of summer bonding–meaning Alexa has to cancel the amusement park road trip she’s been planning for months. Luckily Dalia comes up with a new plan: If she joins Alexa on her trip and brings Rani, the new girl from her swim team, along maybe she can have the perfect summer after all. But what starts out as a week of funnel cakes and Lazy River rides goes off the rails when Dalia discovers that Alexa’s girlfriend is joining the trip. And keeping Alexa’s secret makes Dalia realize one of her own: She might have more-than-friend feelings for Rani.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

I Kissed a Girl by Jennet Alexander (August 3rd)

Lilah Silver’s a young actress who dreams of climbing out of B-list stardom. She’s been cast as the “final girl” in what could be her breakout performance…but if she wants to prove herself to everyone who ever doubted her, she’s going to need major help along the way.

Noa Birnbaum may be a brilliant makeup artist and special effects whiz-kid, but cracking into the union is more difficult than she imagined. Keeping everyone happy is a full-time job, and she’s already run ragged. And yet when the beautiful star she’s been secretly crushing on admits to fears of her own, Noa vows to do everything in her power to help Lilah shine like never before.

Long hours? Exhausting work? No problem. Together they can take the world by storm…but can the connection forged over long hours in the makeup chair ever hope to survive the glare of the spotlight?

Preorder: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | Books-A-Million

The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros (September 7th)

Chicago, 1893. For Alter Rosen, this is the land of opportunity, and he dreams of the day he’ll have enough money to bring his mother and sisters to America, freeing them from the oppression they face in his native Romania.

But when Alter’s best friend, Yakov, becomes the latest victim in a long line of murdered Jewish boys, his dream begins to slip away. While the rest of the city is busy celebrating the World’s Fair, Alter is now living a nightmare: possessed by Yakov’s dybbuk, he is plunged into a world of corruption and deceit, and thrown back into the arms of a dangerous boy from his past. A boy who means more to Alter than anyone knows.

Now, with only days to spare until the dybbuk takes over Alter’s body completely, the two boys must race to track down the killer—before the killer claims them next.

Preorder: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound | Blackwell’s

Books to Add to Your TBR

Most Anticipated LGBTQ Middle Grade Fiction: January-June 2021

All links are affiliate. Using them to purchase these books earns a small percentage of income for the site.

Goldie Vance: The Hocus Pocus Hoax by Lilliam Rivera, ill. by Elle Power (January 5th)

Marigold “Goldie” Vance lives and works at the Crossed Palms Resort Hotel in Florida with a whole slew of characters: her dad, Art, the manager of the joint; Cheryl Lebeaux, the concierge and Goldie’s best friend; and Walter Tooey, the hired hotel detective. Her mom, Sylvie, works nearby at the Mermaid Club.

Prepare to be amazed by Goldie’s second middle-grade adventure! The Crossed Palms is hosting the first ever League of Magical Arts Convention, bringing the world’s most renowned and emerging magicians to the resort, including an overeager part-time magician and detective named Derek Von Thurston. When some of the magic starts to go awry, Goldie — and Derek — are on the case! Can Goldie uncover the saboteur before the final act goes live?

Based on Hope Larson and Brittney Williams’s critically acclaimed Goldie Vance comic, this thrilling novel explores a never-before-seen caper and features 8 full-color comic pages essential to unraveling the mystery.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Meow or Never by Jazz Taylor (January 5th)

Avery Williams can sing, but that doesn’t mean she can sing in front of people. She likes to stay backstage at her new school, which is where, to her surprise, she finds a cat tucked away into a nook. Avery names the stray Phantom and visits any time she’s feeling stressed (which is a lot these days).

As she sings to Phantom one day, her crush, Nic, overhears her and ropes Avery into auditioning for the school’s musical. Despite her nerves, Avery lands the lead role!

She knows she should be excited, but mostly Avery is terrified. Can Phantom help her through her stage fright? And what will happen if anyone finds out about her secret pet?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Middletown by Sarah Moon (April 6th)

Thirteen-year-old Eli likes baggy clothes, baseball caps, and one girl in particular. Her seventeen-year-old sister Anna is more traditionally feminine; she loves boys and staying out late. They are sisters, and they are also the only family each can count on. Their dad has long been out of the picture, and their mom lives at the mercy of her next drink. When their mom lands herself in enforced rehab, Anna and Eli are left to fend for themselves. With no legal guardian to keep them out of foster care, they take matters into their own hands: Anna masquerades as Aunt Lisa, and together she and Eli hoard whatever money they can find. But their plans begin to unravel as quickly as they were made, and they are always way too close to getting caught.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Thanks a Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas (May 11th)

Brian has always been anxious, whether at home, or in class, or on the basketball court. His dad tries to get him to stand up for himself and his mom helps as much as she can, but after he and his brother are placed in foster care, Brian starts having panic attacks. And he doesn’t know if things will ever be “normal” again . . . Ezra’s always been popular. He’s friends with most of the kids on his basketball team—even Brian, who usually keeps to himself. But now, some of his friends have been acting differently, and Brian seems to be pulling away. Ezra wants to help, but he worries if he’s too nice to Brian, his friends will realize that he has a crush on him . . .

But when Brian and his brother run away, Ezra has no choice but to take the leap and reach out. Both boys have to decide if they’re willing to risk sharing parts of themselves they’d rather hide. But if they can be brave, they might just find the best in themselves—and each other.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Hazel Bly and the Deep Blue Sea by Ashley Herring Blake (May 25th)

Hazel Bly used to live in the perfect house with the perfect family in sunny California. But when a kayaking trip goes horribly wrong, Mum is suddenly gone forever and Hazel is left with crippling anxiety and a jagged scar on her face. After Mum’s death, Hazel, her other mother, Mama, and her little sister, Peach, needed a fresh start. So for the last two years, the Bly girls have lived all over the country, never settling anywhere for more than a few months.

When the family arrives in Rose Harbor, Maine, there’s a wildness to the small town that feels like magic. But when Mama runs into an old childhood friend—Claire—suddenly Hazel’s tight-knit world is infiltrated. To make it worse, she has a daughter Hazel’s age, Lemon, who can’t stop rambling on and on about the Rose Maid, a local 150-year-old mermaid myth.

Soon, Hazel finds herself just as obsessed with the Rose Maid as Lemon is—because what if magic were real? What if grief really could change you so much, you weren’t even yourself anymore? And what if instead you emerged from the darkness stronger than before?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

How to Become a Planet by Nicole Melleby (May 25th)

For Pluto, summer has always started with a trip to the planetarium. It’s the launch to her favorite season, which also includes visits to the boardwalk arcade, working in her mom’s pizzeria, and her best friend Meredith’s birthday party. But this summer, none of that feels possible.

A month before the end of the school year, Pluto’s frightened mom broke down Pluto’s bedroom door. What came next were doctor’s appointments, a diagnosis of depression, and a big black hole that still sits on Pluto’s chest, making it too hard to do anything.

Pluto can’t explain to her mom why she can’t do the things she used to love. And it isn’t until Pluto’s dad threatens to make her move with him to the city—where he believes his money, in particular, could help—that Pluto becomes desperate enough to do whatever it takes to be the old Pluto again.

She develops a plan and a checklist: If she takes her medication, if she goes to the planetarium with her mom for her birthday, if she successfully finishes her summer school work with her tutor, if she goes to Meredith’s birthday party . . . if she does all the things that “normal” Pluto would do, she can stay with her mom in Jersey. But it takes a new therapist, a new tutor, and a new (and cute) friend with a checklist and plan of her own for Pluto to learn that there is no old and new Pluto. There’s just her.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow (June 8th)

Would-be amusement park aficionado Dalia only has two items on her summer bucket list: (1) finally ride a roller coaster and (2) figure out how to make a new best friend. But when her dad suddenly announces that he’s engaged, Dalia’s schemes come to a screeching halt. With Dalia’s future stepsister Alexa heading back to college soon, the grown-ups want the girls to spend the last weeks of summer bonding–meaning Alexa has to cancel the amusement park road trip she’s been planning for months. Luckily Dalia comes up with a new plan: If she joins Alexa on her trip and brings Rani, the new girl from her swim team, along maybe she can have the perfect summer after all. But what starts out as a week of funnel cakes and Lazy River rides goes off the rails when Dalia discovers that Alexa’s girlfriend is joining the trip. And keeping Alexa’s secret makes Dalia realize one of her own: She might have more-than-friend feelings for Rani.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Both Can Be True by Jules Machias (June 8th)

Ash is no stranger to feeling like an outcast. For someone who cycles through genders, it’s a daily struggle to feel in control of how people perceive you. Some days Ash is undoubtedly girl, but other times, 100 percent guy. Daniel lacks control too—of his emotions. He’s been told he’s overly sensitive more times than he can count. He can’t help the way he is, and he sure wishes someone would accept him for it.

So when Daniel’s big heart leads him to rescue a dog that’s about to be euthanized, he’s relieved to find Ash willing to help. The two bond over their four-legged secret. When they start catching feelings for each other, however, things go from cute to complicated. Daniel thinks Ash is all girl . . . what happens when he finds out there’s more to Ash’s story?

With so much on the line—truth, identity, acceptance, and the life of an adorable pup named Chewbarka—will Ash and Daniel forever feel at war with themselves because they don’t fit into the world’s binaries? Or will their friendship help them embrace the beauty of living in between?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

September 2020 Book Deal Announcements

Adult Fiction

Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate and Caine Prize finalist Arinze Ifeakandu‘s GOD’S CHILDREN ARE LITTLE BROKEN THINGS, a debut story collection set in Nigeria united by the theme of queer male intimacy, to Brigid Hughes at A Public Space Books, by Jin Auh and Austin Mueller at The Wylie Agency (world English).

Author of WILLA & HESPER Amy Feltman‘s ALL THE THINGS WE DON’T TALK ABOUT, a queer family drama, following a diverse cast of characters whose lives are upended by the sudden reappearance of their self-destructive mother; grappling with betrayal and addiction alongside queer love and joy, to Maddie Caldwell at Grand Central, in an exclusive submission, by Stephanie Delman at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates (world English)

Center for Fiction First Novel Prize nominee Celia Laskey‘s THE BRIDESMAID, about two women, one gay and one straight, whose longstanding friendship spirals violently out of control over the course of one’s wedding weekend, exploring contemporary female friendship, platonic queer-straight dynamics, and the absurdity of the wedding industrial complex, to John Glynn at Hanover Square Press, at auction, by Alexa Stark at Trident Media Group (NA).

A BIG SHIP AT THE EDGE OF THE UNIVERSE and ALIEN: THE COLD FORGE author Alex White‘s STAR TREK: REVENANT, a new adventure set during the fourth season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, about a terrible secret at the heart of the Trill Symbiosis Commission that forces Jadzia Dax to reckon further with the past lives of the Dax symbiont, particularly her immediate predecessor Curzon and the psychopathic murderer Joran, in the first treatment of Star Trek’s groundbreaking genderfluid Trill species by a nonbinary or genderqueer writer, to Ed Schlesinger at Pocket, by Connor Goldsmith at Fuse Literary (world English).

PEN/Robert W Bingham Finalist and physician-writer Chaya Bhuvaneswar‘s WHITE DANCING ELEPHANTS, debut collection of short stories of the #MeToo and survival of queer women of color, to Blackstone Audio, by Lane Zachary at Aevitas Inc.

Author of THE EARTHQUAKE ROOM Davey Davis’s X, a queer noir set in a near-future New York that follows a down-and-out sadomasochist drawn from their post-breakup desolation into the pursuit of pure pleasure after a chance encounter, to Alicia Kroell at Catapult, by Julia Kardon at HG Literary (world English).

Printz Award-winning author of WE ARE OKAY and the forthcoming WATCH OVER ME Nina LaCour’s YERBA BUENA, following two women on a star-crossed journey toward one another, across the expanse of California—from a drug-soaked town in the redwoods to an elegant Los Angeles restaurant—as one finds refuge in her family’s past and the other struggles against the dark secrets she’d rather leave behind; also, an untitled multigenerational family saga inspired by the author’s grandparents, following their journey from New Orleans to Los Angeles, and what they gained and left behind, to Caroline Bleeke at Flatiron Books, in a major deal, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in Winter 2022, by Sara Crowe at Pippin Properties (NA).

Anita Kelly’s debut RECIPES FOR A DELICIOUS DISASTER, a romantic comedy in which the first openly nonbinary contestant on America’s favorite cooking show becomes distracted by their beautiful, clumsy competitor, but when the couple starts exploring their chemistry, they’re tested by heat outside of the kitchen, to Junessa Viloria at Forever, in a three-book deal, by Kim Lionetti at BookEnds.

Alison Cochrun‘s debut THE CHARM OFFENSIVE, a queer rom-com about a reality dating show producer tasked with helping the show’s tech wunderkind star find his true love among 30 women, but when their off-screen chemistry overshadows what happens in front of the cameras, they may have to rewrite happily ever after, pitched in the vein of RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE and ONE TO WATCH, to Kaitlin Olson at Atria, in a nice deal, for publication in fall 2021, by Bibi Lewis at Ethan Ellenberg Agency (world).

Columbia MFA graduate Khashayar Joshua Khabushani’s‘s OUR NEW NAMES, about the powerful bonds that make and break an Iranian American family, and the journey a son must make in order to find his place in the world, from San Fernando Valley to Iran and eventually to New York, examining boyhood and brotherhood, violence and tenderness, and queer identity and belonging in America, to Parisa Ebrahimi at Hogarth, at auction, by Bill Clegg at The Clegg Agency (NA).

Children’s/Middle Grade Fiction

Katherine Locke’s WHAT ARE YOUR WORDS?, introducing and celebrating gender-inclusive pronouns as a child explores both their neighborhood and which “words” fit them and their neighbors best today, illustrated by Anne Passchier, to Regan Winter at Little, Brown Children’s, for publication in summer 2021, by Lara Perkins at Andrea Brown Literary Agency for the author, and by Anne Moore Armstrong at The Bright Group for the illustrator (world).

Actor, activist, and author Nico Tortorella‘s picture book OLIVETTE IS YOU, an inclusive message about celebrating different gender identities, to Emily Easton at Crown Children’s, by Sarah Passick at Park & Fine Literary and Media.

Transgender Korean American author, athlete, and activist Schuyler Bailar‘s Middle Grade debut OBIE IS MAN ENOUGH, about a transgender tween who looks to prove he’s one of the fastest boys in the pool as he contends with new teammates, bullies, and his biggest competition: himself, to Phoebe Yeh at Crown Children’s, for publication in fall 2021, by Marietta Zacker at Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency (world English).

Young Adult Fiction

Philline Harms’s debut NEVER KISS YOUR ROOMMATE, in which a girl arrives at a boarding school, and a mysterious and alluring girl is assigned to be her roommate, but as their relationship goes from cold to red hot, the roommate’s dangerous past resurfaces and tests the strength of their budding romance, to Deanna McFadden at Wattpad, for publication in spring 2021.

NYT-bestselling author of WILDER GIRLS Rory Power‘s THE WORLD ENDS HERE, a speculative thriller following ex-girlfriends raised at a remote, icy research institute, and what happens when they uncover the nightmarish discovery their families are protecting there, to Krista Marino at Delacorte, in a six-figure deal, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2021, by Kim Witherspoon and Jessica Mileo at Inkwell Management (NA).

Molly Horan‘s EPICALLY EARNEST, pitched as a queer contemporary wink to Oscar Wilde’s THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, in which a high school senior must decide who she wants to be and where she fits in as graduation approaches, all the while finding the time to fall in love with the girl of her dreams, to Lily Kessinger at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s, for publication in spring 2022, by Elle Thompson and Uwe Stender at TriadaUS Literary Agency (world).

Author of the forthcoming ALMOST FLYING Jake Maia Arlow’s WINTER BREAK, a contemporary rom-com about two Jewish girls falling in love reluctantly at Christmastime, a hate-to-love romance pitched as “like a Hallmark Christmas movie—if a Hallmark Christmas movie ever starred sexually frustrated lesbian Jews,” to Stephanie Guerdan at Harper Teen, in a good deal, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2022, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world).

Eric Geron’s debut A TALE OF TWO PRINCES, about a closeted crown prince newly established in Canada and an out-and-proud Montana cowboy who meet by chance and turn out to be long-lost twin brothers, forced to navigate coming out, coronations, and high school together, to Rebecca Kuss at Inkyard Press, in a good deal, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2022, by Brent Taylor at TriadaUS Literary Agency (world English).

Maggie Tokuda-Hall‘s untitled sequel to THE MERMAID, THE WITCH, AND THE SEA, in which a number of characters from the first book reunite to destroy the Nipran Empire; with a siren, a dragon, and some familiar mermaids, this motley group may finally have what they need to end imperialism in their world once and for all, to Karen Lotz at Candlewick, in an exclusive submission, by Jennifer Laughran at Andrea Brown Literary Agency (world).

Peyton Thomas‘s debut BOTH SIDES NOW, featuring a trans protagonist taking his competitive high school debate circuit by storm, pitched as for fans of SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA and RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE, to Ellen Cormier at Dial, at auction, for publication in fall 2021, by Brooks Sherman at Janklow & Nesbit (US).

Tobias Madden’s ANYTHING BUT FINE, about a teenage ballet dancer who breaks his foot and begins to question everything he once took for granted, including his relationship with the dreamy, perfect-in-every-way, and seemingly straight captain of the rowing team, to Zoe Walton at Penguin Random House Australia, at auction, for publication in 2021, by Claire Friedman at Inkwell Management (Australia and New Zealand).

Faridah Abike-Iyimide‘s ACE OF SPADES, pitched as Gossip Girl meets Get Out, in which a mysterious source spreads rumors about a prestigious private school’s only two Black students, who must fight for their reputations—and for their lives, to Foyinsi Adegbonmire at Feiwel and Friends, in a major deal, in a seven-figure deal, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2021, by Molly Ker Hawn at The Bent Agency, on behalf of Zoe Plant at The Bent Agency (NA).

Graphic Novels

Cartoonist Alex Combs‘s TRANS HISTORY: A GRAPHIC NOVEL, presenting an introduction to transgender identity and history in the U.S. and beyond, to Andrea Tompa at Candlewick, at auction, for publication in 2023, by Zabe Ellor at Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency (world English).

Non-Fiction

Professor of Victorian literature at Berkeley and intellectual Grace Lavery’s PLEASE MISS, a speculative memoir of gender transition and recovery from addiction, refracted through pop culture, queer theory, film, TV, literature, and (what feels like) stand-up comedy, pitched as THE ARGONAUTS caught in a hall of mirrors, with a lot more sex and humor, to Claire Potter at Seal Press, in a six-figure deal, at auction, by Alison Lewis at Zoe Pagnamenta Agency.

Podcast host, and creator of the LGBTQ+ blog TheShitneySpears David Olshanetsky’s COMING OUT ALIVE, a guide to coming out of the closet, combining personal anecdotes with how-to guides; queer history lessons you won’t get in school; and conversations with LGBTQ+ celebrities, including international pop music sensation Pabllo Vittar, activist and Broadway trailblazer Peppermint, and writer and performer Stephen Fry about their own journeys, to Sylvan Creekmore at Wednesday Books, in a good deal, for publication in June 2022, by Connor Goldsmith at Fuse Literary (world English).

Supergirl actress, transgender rights activist, and subject of the book BECOMING NICOLE Nicole Maines’s coming-of-age memoir, about learning how to be OK with not always being OK, aiming to correct some of the most insidious messaging absorbed by queer kids and all young women—from the idea that any one thing can (or should) ever really “fix” you to wondering what’s wrong with you when things don’t always feel better—by providing an intimate look at the author’s life and all the lessons she’s learned along the way, to Caitlin McKenna at Dial, in an exclusive submission, by Lauren MacLeod and Wendy Strothman at The Strothman Agency.

Writing professor and former professional dominatrix Chris Belcher’s PRETTY BABY, an examination of gender, power, violence, and intimacy, following the author’s coming-of-age as a queer woman in rural Appalachia, to adulthood in Los Angeles as a female academic and sex worker, to Carolyn Kelly at Avid Reader Press, by Jade Wong-Baxter at Massie & McQuilkin (NA).

Author of the Lambda Literary Award- and Prix JDD France Inter-winning THE FACT OF A BODY: A MURDER AND A MEMOIR Alex Marzano-Lesnevich’s BOTH AND NEITHER, a genre- and gender-bending work of memoir, history, cultural analysis, trans reimaginings, and international road trip about life beyond the binary, to Margo Shickmanter at Doubleday, at auction, by PJ Mark at Janklow & Nesbit.

Longtime birder and social activist Christian Cooper‘s BETTER LIVING THROUGH BIRDING, reflecting on a life lived at the intersections of race and queerness; equal parts memoir, travelogue, and call to action, exploring the lifetime of experience that prepared the author for his now-infamous encounter with racist white aggression in Central Park, on the very day that the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis sent the country over the edge, spurring protests in the streets and inspiring calls for change, to Chayenne Skeete at Random House, with Mark Warren editing, at auction, by Gail Ross at Ross Yoon Agency (world).

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Announcements are cribbed from Publishers Marketplace.

December Book Deal Announcements

Adult Fiction

Columbia MFA Joss Lake’s FUTURE FEELING, set in alt-future Brooklyn and L.A., following three young trans men—a professional dog walker, a self-absorbed social media influencer, and a jaded TV writer—who must work together to remedy the disastrous effects of an ill-conceived hex at the behest of the Rhiz, the quasi-benevolent network responsible for the collective well-being of the global transgender community, to Yuka Igarashi at Soft Skull, by Chris Clemans at Janklow & Nesbit (world English).

NYT-bestselling author of PLEASE LOOK AFTER MOM and winner of the International Man Booker Prize Kyung-Sook Shin’s VIOLET, about a young woman who works in a flower shop and has been shunned by her female high school lover, which sets her apart from society and the world of Seoul, to Jisu Kim at Feminist Press, in an exclusive submission, for publication in 2021, by Barbara Zitwer at Barbara Zitwer Agency (world English).

NYT bestselling author of RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE Casey McQuiston‘s ONE LAST STOP, pitched as a queer Kate & Leopold, in which a 23-year-old realizes her subway crush is displaced from 1970’s Brooklyn, and she must do everything in her power to help her – and try not to fall in love with the girl lost in time – before it’s too late, to Vicki Lame at Griffin, in an exclusive submission, for publication in summer 2021, by Sara Megibow at kt literary (world English).

Sara Codair’s EARTH RECLAIMED, in which a 17-year-old non-binary mage must stop a budding war between mages and scientists before Mother Earth reclaims the world, to Zelda Knight at Aurelia Leo, in a nice deal, for publication in January 2021 (world English).

Lambda Literary Fellow and diaCRITICS.org contributor Eric Nguyen‘s A HISTORY OF LOST THINGS, set in the New Orleans housing project of Versailles and following a Vietnamese refugee mother and her two sons, one tempted by gangs and the other embracing his gay identity, as they reckon with their past losses and grapple with creating a new home, to Caitlin Landuyt at Knopf, in a very nice deal, at auction, by Julie Stevenson at Massie & McQuilkin (NA).

Author of the second installment of VERA KELLY series Rosalie Knecht‘s VERA KELLY IS NOT A MYSTERY, picking up with an ex-CIA agent after she loses her job and her girlfriend in a single day and reluctantly goes into business as a private detective, taking a case chasing a lost child through foster care and following a trail of Dominican exiles to the Caribbean, dredging up dark memories and dangerous characters from across the Cold War landscape, to Masie Cochran at Tin House Books, for publication in June 2020, by Soumeya Bendimerad Roberts at HG Literary (NA).

NYT- and USA Today-bestselling author Chelsea Cameron‘s THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, in which one woman’s plans for escaping her parents’ house and the confines of small town life are waylaid by the lobsterwoman next door, to Kerri Buckley at Carina Press Adores, for publication in June 2020 (world).

Morgan Rogers‘s HONEY GIRL, pitched for fans of RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE, an #OwnVoices debut that follows a young black woman just finishing her PhD in astronomy who impulsively gets married in Vegas and decides to leave her perfectly ordered life for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows, to Laura Brown at Park Row Books, by Holly Root at Root Literary (NA).

Children’s Fiction

Sunmi’s FIREBIRD, a debut graphic novel that follows a girl as she crushes on an older girl she tutors, and their friendship through their varied experiences as queer children of Asian-American immigrants, to Clarissa Wong at Harper Alley, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in 2022, by Susan Graham at Einstein Literary Management (world).

Miel Moreland’s IT GOES LIKE THIS, an #OwnVoices story about a former queer pop band, the (messy) fallout of their globally mourned breakup, and the devastating hometown storm that brings the teens back together, leaving each member to wonder if they can rebuild more than just the town, to Rachel Diebel at Feiwel and Friends, for publication in spring 2021, by Jessica Errera at Jane Rotrosen Agency (NA).

Author of ONLY MOSTLY DEVASTATED Sophie Gonzales‘s THE EX-GIRLFRIEND GETTER-BACKER EXPERIMENT, in which a bisexual girl who gives out anonymous love advice at her high school is blackmailed by the hot guy in her class into helping him get his ex-girlfriend back, and the unintended consequences of her advice end up affecting everyone, including herself, pitched as THE DUFF meets TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE, to Sylvan Creekmore at Wednesday Books, in an exclusive submission, for publication in 2021, by Moe Ferrara at BookEnds (world).

Kate Prosswimmer at S&S/McElderry has acquired IN DEEPER WATERS by F.T. Lukens. Pitched as A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue meets Pirates of the Caribbean, this high seas fantasy features a prince with secret magic who is kidnapped during his coming-of-age tour and must rely on a mysterious young man to save him. Publication is slated for spring 2021; Eva Scalzo at Speilburg Literary Agency did the deal.

STRANGE GRACE author Tessa Gratton‘s NIGHT SHINE, pitched as a dark, queer Howl’s Moving Castle, in which the crown prince is kidnapped, and only an orphan knows enough of his secrets to seek him in a demon-haunted fortress, to Karen Wojtyla at Margaret K. McElderry Books, in an exclusive submission, for publication in fall 2020, by Laura Rennert at Andrea Brown Literary Agency (world English).

Maya MacGregor‘s THE MANY HALF-LIVED LIVES OF SAM SYLVESTER, about an autistic genderqueer protagonist who leaves an intolerant school for a new high school with the support of their loving father, finding a Rainbow Club and accepting friends, all of whom must come together to solve the decades-old mystery of the murder of a teenage boy and confront the child’s own fears of early death, to Jes Negron at Boyds Mills Press, for publication in fall 2020, by Sara Megibow at kt literary (world English).

Jake Maia Arlow‘s ALMOST FLYING, in which a 13-year-old takes part in a summer road trip to several amusement parks and celebrates found family, first queer crushes, and the singular delight of roller coasters, to Ellen Cormier at Dial, in a good deal, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2021, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world).

Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Award-winning actor, singer, dancer, writer, and advocate Billy Porter‘s untitled picture book, to Courtney Code at Abrams Children’s, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world).

Non-Fiction

Contributor to Tin House and Granta Krys Malcolm Belc’s THE NATURAL MOTHER OF THE CHILD, about bodily autonomy and parenthood, from a transmasculine parent who identifies as neither mother nor father to his gestational son and the two children his partner carried, to Dan Smetanka at Counterpoint, with Jennifer Alton editing, by Ashley Lopez at Waxman Literary Agency (NA).

Trans activist, storyteller, and Director of Family Formation at Family Equality Trystan Angel Reese‘s TENDER MOMENTS AND TOUGH LESSONS: THE JOURNEY THROUGH ADOPTION, TRANS PREGNANCY, AND LGBTQ PARENTHOOD, a memoir of Trystan and his partner Biff’s route to parenthood, from adopting two kids in need to becoming pregnant as a man and candid reflections on it all, interwoven with universal lessons for those facing obstacles to parenthood, to Batya Rosenblum at The Experiment, for publication in spring 2021, by Myrsini Stephanides at Carol Mann Agency (world).

Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Award-winning actor, singer, dancer, writer, and advocate Billy Porter‘s UNPROTECTED, a memoir of childhood trauma, creative struggle, public courage, and triumph, to Jamison Stoltz at Abrams Press, in a pre-empt; also, an untitled picture book, to Courtney Code at Abrams Children’s, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world).